The Jam The Jam At The BBC Review

BBC Review

The Jam At The BBC allows those too young at the time to appreciate the fire and skill...

Greg Boraman 2002

Twenty Five years after The Jam's first record release, this 3 CD collection focuses on what many saw as the most vital aspect of the group: its live output. It has been said elsewhere that despite Wellers fascination with 1960's soul music, The Jam were always at their core a blistering New Wave band throughout their live career and this collection proves that above any doubt.

Dour, backward looking puritans to some, earnest champions of integrity to many others, The Jam always did things differently to their peers. From the very un-punk principle of wearing Mod suits and honouring their beloved 60s influences in the face of the scenes nihilistic Year Zero attitude, Weller led his group in a salmon-like struggle against the prevailing commercial tide. In doing this he proved that, in the long run, his attitude stood for a whole lot more than a safety pin, V sign or any other ultimately marketable commodity.

The Jam At The BBC provides a wonderful snapshot of a band that in their day could not be equalled by any rivals. From the first Peel sessions that crackle with genuine teenage anger and speed through to the far more considered concert recordings dating from 1981, the bands taut musicianship, snappy tempos and earnest, and occasionally naïve, honesty virtually leaps from the speakers and grabs you round the throat like some of Weller's violent fictional characters from his songs ("A Bomb In Wardour Street" and "Down In The Tube Station At Midnight"). It's tracks like these that highlight the bands tight arrangements and Weller's voice developing from a teenage howl ("In The City") through to his trademark throaty bark.

The highlights of this collection include a version of the rabble rousing "Eton Rifles", recorded at a time of the Jam's first proper wave of success. The energy and excitement of a great outfit finding its feet smacks you right between the eyes; and the best was still to come!

Twenty years on from the time of the original recordings The Jam At The BBC allows those too young at the time to appreciate the fire and skill of England's most English band in full flight, straight ahead and taking no prisoners. Paul Weller split The Jam at the height of their success a move which was to preserve the group's integrity and also avoid the pitfalls later to drag down his contemporaries. In hindsight this was his smartest move. The Jam were like one of his songs, short, fast, madly catchy and always far more than just pop.

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